I give all the respect in the world to people like Yuri Gagarin, Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin — and by “people like them,” I mean astronauts. That said, Chris Hadfield is quickly becoming the most relevant astronaut ever. He appears on our site quite frequently, showing us space nachos and letting us listen to the ambient sounds of the International Space Station. It will be a sad day in a couple of months when he comes back to Earth, but there’s no reason to cry in space about it.
Crying would be a waste of water anyway. Except the ISS is a self-sustaining environment and doesn’t have time for wasted water, as Hadfield demonstrates in the above video. Urine, sweat, and tears are all collected and filtered back into the station as purified drinking and washing water. In fact, Hadfield claims 93% of all water expelled into the ISS is reused, which is pretty astounding. It’s been even better in the last few years, once the space station was equipped with its own water filtration system for real-time filtering, rather than having to ship giant bags of water back and forth back to Earth. It allows for 6,000 extra liters of water in the station each year.
For anyone who lives in an area where the tap water is the color of faded mud, there is absolutely nothing comparatively gross about drinking filtered urine. It would be naive to think we’re drinking anything better anyway.